Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Tynwald triumph for classy Occitania

Champions...Occitania celebrate
Occitania won silverware for the first time after being crowned champions of the Tynwald Hill Tournament last weekend on the Isle of Man. The Occitans cruised through the group-stages before seeing off club side St Johns United 2-0 in the final to lift the trophy. In a goal-packed competition Tamil Eelam took bronze ahead of Raetia, and Sealand pipped rivals Alderney to 5th.

Group A was labelled the group of death as soon as the draw was made. On the opening night Sealand and Tamil Eelam played out arguably the game of the tournament. Former Roma forward Panushanth Kulenthiran twice put the Asians ahead with spectacular finishes only for Sam Churchman and Dave Lee to draw the Seals level before the break. Captain Luke Wilson then gave the Sealanders the lead but captain Majouran Jeganathan levelled from a corner before a controversial penalty in stoppage time was awarded to the Tamils. Mathanraj Uthayanan made no mistake and the win was secured 2 minutes later when Ragvan Prashanth made it 5 after goalkeeper Tom McIntosh had gone up for a corner.
Thriller...Sealand's Churchman versus Tamil Eelam

In the 2nd group game Sealand, who lost 3 players to injury on the opening day, played a good 1st half but found themselves 2 down to Occitania thanks to a Guillaume Lafuente brace. In the 2nd half the footballing superiority shone through as the Occitans fired 6 goals beyond McIntosh for a comprehensive 8-0 win. The pre-tournament favourites then won the group the day after when they eased past Tamil Eelam 5-0. 4-0 up at half time Occitania midfielder Boris Massare was on top form, scoring his 2nd goal of the competition and causing havoc in the attacking 3rd. The Tamils, thanks to their win over Sealand, took 2nd place.

Group B proved to be much tighter despite the hosts cruising past an ill-disciplined Raetian side in the opening match. Midfielder Nick Hurt, the record-caps holder for the Isle of Man national team, was pulling the strings and he scored a penalty against the Swiss side after veteran midfielder John Wriggley had opened the scoring. Alderney then took on St Johns and were desperately unlucky to lose after taking a 1-0 lead thanks to a fine Josh Concanen goal. Steven Glover, a workhorse upfront for the hosts, won the game with less than 20 minutes to go. 
Hosts...St Johns (stripes) against Raetia

Alderney entered their 2nd game knowing a draw against Raetia would send them into the 3rd-place match. The team were hopeful of securing only a 3rd-ever win and they took the lead early on when Concanen notched his 2nd of the competition from the penalty spot. The game changed in the 19th minute when they Ridunians were reduced to 10-men following a handball on the line. Serkhan Karamese levelled from the spot before Sandro Dietrich thundered a loose ball home for 2-1. After the interval Dietrich’s composed finish made it 3 but Alderney replied via youngster Jamie Blackham, whose delicate finish made for a nervy finale. The final score was 3-2, and Alderney went on to meet Sealand for 5th-place.

Bronze medal...Tamil Eelam thrashed the Raetians
The Seals took only 35 seconds to take the lead when Dan Williams lofted Jack Field’s through-ball over Paul Williams and into the net. Alderney were reduced to 10 men but it took until the 54th minute for the Seals to take advantage, Sam Churchman’s 2nd of the competition making it 2. Roscoe Atkins capitalised on a defensive error to make it 2-1 late on but goalkeeper Will Dukes made some crucial saves to keep the score as it was. Tamil Eelam later eased past Raetia who had a remarkable 3 players sent off. Gvinthan Navaneethakrishnan scored a sensational goal as part of his hat-trick as the Asians made sure of 3rd-place with their record win.

Maiden...Occitania's first silverware
Nearly 600 people witnessed a nervy start to the final. The hosts set up smartly and even tested Jimmy Leban in the 30th minute but it was scoreless at half-time. The Occitans were slowly forcing the issue as the 2nd period wore on and eventually they made the breakthrough when Brice Martinez flicked the ball home stylishly at the far post after a well-worked corner. With 10 minutes to go Lafuente was given too much time at the far post and he slotted past Damyan Petkov for his 8th international goal. The strike sealed the win for Occitania who celebrated late into the night. The competition was a success and the Isle of Man has become the lead candidate to host the 2014 VIVA World Cup.

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